John Hall steps down as president of Goose Island, Anheuser-Busch Craft Advisory Board established

Discussion in 'Beer News' started by Todd, Nov 16, 2012.

  1. emannths

    emannths Sep 21, 2007 Massachusetts

    Pretty sure he's talking about the starting-your-own-business-that's-so-successful-that-it-supports-you-and-your-family-for-life part. But having an influential role in a multinational corporation ain't bad either.
  2. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    I am not surprised that John Hall and Tony Bowker have been ‘displaced’ from Goose Island. The disappointing news is that they named Andy Goeler to be President and CEO of Goose Island. Within the press release they mention:

    “Andy has led the growth of Shock Top from its infancy, while taking established global brands, such as Stella Artois and Beck’s, and bringing them to new levels in the United States, carefully maintaining a consistent, quality brand position.”

    There has been much discussion on other BA threads that the Beck’s that is being brewed now in the US is a shell of its former self primarily due to cheapening of the brewing process. Is this Andy’s ‘claim to fame’?

    Very disappointing news indeed.:(
    jbertsch, smutty33 and creepinjeeper like this.
  3. sacrelicio

    sacrelicio Feb 15, 2005 Minnesota

    Not to threadjack, but what was Beck's like before? It's always been a pretty generic pale euro lager in my experience.
  4. JimsArcade

    JimsArcade Jan 20, 2004 Pennsylvania

    I was thinking the same thing. He may have helped improve the level of profit from Becks, but the level of quality of that beer brewed in America has clearly dropped.
  5. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

  6. splufdaddy

    splufdaddy Jan 7, 2008 Connecticut

  7. jesskidden

    jesskidden Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey

    IceAce likes this.
  8. danimalarkey

    danimalarkey Mar 3, 2008 Illinois

    The Tribune recently updated their story:,0,2990494.story

    I doubt it will change anyone's mind about what this means for Goose or craft beer but for anyone looking for information rather than baseless speculation might want to take a look.

    ETA: Conspiracy nuts always make me think of this passage from Alice in Wonderland:
    "Alice laughed: 'There's no use trying,' she said; 'one can't believe impossible things.'
    'I daresay you haven't had much practice,' said the Queen. 'When I was younger, I always did it for half an hour a day. Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.'"
    5thOhio likes this.
  9. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    Thanks for that link to the Tribune article.

    I took note of:

    “Goeler made clear that his focus is expanding Goose Island nationally with four core beers – 312 Urban Wheat Ale, Honker’s Ale, India Pale Ale and a rotating seasonal (Mild Winter, Summertime or Fall Harvest), all of which will largely be brewed at AB plants in Baldwinsville, N.Y. and Ft. Collins, Colo.”

    It will be interesting to see how the Goose Island beers being brewing at the AB plants taste like given what has happened to US brewing of Beck’s.

  10. neophilus

    neophilus Apr 4, 2009 Massachusetts

    They control enough of distributor's revenue to heavily influence the decisions those distributors make, including leaning on them to lean on their retailers to devote shelf space to InBev products.
    Ford likes this.
  11. steveh

    steveh Oct 8, 2003 Illinois

    I would if I could cash that paycheck every 2 weeks -- besides, it's a board of directors discussing new beer trends -- think about it...
    FTowne likes this.
  12. southdenverhoo

    southdenverhoo Aug 13, 2004 Colorado

    Did I misread? I think it's a "Craft Advisory Board" not any sort of Board of Directors. I think that translates to sitting around in a conference room once a month, Thinking Great Thoughts, generating Vision Statements, until six months down the road somebody from A-B comes in and says, "Hey guys? You know, we don't actually need you to come in, why don't you just conference call these things from home? And....don't bother printing out all these Strategic Reports, just e-mail 'em to my assistant, we'll take care of circulating, and we're going to have to go ahead and, um, re-assign your personal assistants, and the receptionist here...come with me, folks, we'll get you all set up on the 11th Floor"

    Of course the checks will continue, for however the initial agreement called for....
  13. southdenverhoo

    southdenverhoo Aug 13, 2004 Colorado

    "led the growth of Shock Top since its infancy", fuck me. Poor Goose Island! I wonder how long they'll keep the old brewery open?

    I can hear it now: "Going forward, we've decided to concentrate on our flagship entries in this brand, 312, Honkers, IPA and a rotating seasonal. Having made that decision, we'll continue to focus on these flagship brands, constituting 95% of our sales in the last quarter, in our Ft. Collins and Baldwinsville facilities. Given the cost, however, in maintaining the expensive yet ultimately not significantly income-producing Fulton Street property we'll be closing that plant and discontinuing the under-performing SKUs we had been producing there. We've sold the brewpubs as well, to industry leader Gordon Biersch/Rock Bottom; operating these sorts of facilities are much more within their core competency than ours, so we feel confident this is a win-win for both companies."

    [the words "beer", "brewery" and "brewers" will not be used]
  14. creepinjeeper

    creepinjeeper Nov 8, 2012 Missouri
    Subscriber Beer Trader

    Lemme see if I have this right - AB/InBev have taken the cornerstone of GI's foundation and placed them on a craft beer advisory board. In other words, AB/InBev is looking for "street cred" with drinkers of craft beer. Then, they replace them at GI with a gentleman whose pedigree includes Shock Top. Shock Top? It seems to me they have placed a fox in the henhouse; one of their own to make GI one of their clones. You've heard it said, "if ain't broke, don't fix it". It's hard to believe that they'll take that approach. Getting the "brand" (and sadly, that's what GI has become to them) to more consumers will probably mean subtle changes to recipes to save money. 312 with a touch of orange flavor or even tampering with BCBS. (Something I have yet to try . . . quickly, now.) Then giving the "brand" a spokesman. Honker, the talking goose? I could be a little extreme here. We will, after all have to watch and wait to see what happens. Beside, what do I know? I am just a consumer.;)
    Bitter_Echo and JediMatt like this.
  15. creepinjeeper

    creepinjeeper Nov 8, 2012 Missouri
    Subscriber Beer Trader

    A slowly driven nail, might I add?
    MagillaGriller likes this.
  16. creepinjeeper

    creepinjeeper Nov 8, 2012 Missouri
    Subscriber Beer Trader

    I agree, and am happy for their success. Maybe, they could make a difference at the mega-mogul. I just hope it doesn't turn out like being a freshman congressman in the U.S. House. Thinking you can really make a difference only to see frustraion and disillusionment.
  17. IceAce

    IceAce Jan 8, 2004 California

    Realizing you are referring to ABI's Andy Goeler, I looked up John Hall's bio on the Goose Island website:

    I'm looking for John's 'single brewing degree'. Same goes for both Koch's.

    My point? While the Craft side of the business is seemingly more about passion and innovation than it is about money, neither Goose Island, Boston Beer or Stone were created by a brewing legend...but by very, very astute businessmen.
    Norica, JimsArcade and jesskidden like this.
  18. Pahn

    Pahn Dec 2, 2009 New York
    Beer Trader

    i'd say the point is that his (the A-B guy's) resume has bullshit like shock top. the halls and the kochs may be businessmen first and foremost, but their model obviously prioritizes respecting talent and quality.

    it's unlikely that A-B vets will do the same, (and everyone who gets up in arms about "why would A-B be so dumb as to ruin goose island!? why did they buy it then!?" listen carefully) because the A-B model of sacrificing quality for bland lowest-common-denominator choices and marketing works better and sells more beer than the craft model. the reason A-B wants to break into craft and run it like it were a macro is that they know their method works.

    this is why comments about how GI quality will likely go down are not conspiracy nut nonsense. rather, such comments come from avoiding the magical thinking of misguided capitalism fans who aren't as smart as the businessmen they worship.
  19. Biffster

    Biffster Mar 29, 2004 Michigan

    Amen! I'm sad for GI and the (very likely) genericization of the brand. But no one ever seems to talk about this aspect. Has no one ever noticed there is no exit strategy in the craft beer world? I know lots of owners and brewers personally. They all seem to avoid that subject very carefully. Everyone wants to grow and be profitable. Everyone does it for the love of great beer. But no one has any idea how they will retire or exit when they are old and tired, or successful and ready. Who sells a brewery? Who goes public? A brewery dies when the creative force is gone. Period.

    Do we begrudge the GI boys for finding the four leaf clover and having a way to cash out when it got too big and the brand (dirty word, I know) got too valuable to ignore? The craft beer world is a tiny bit less diverse. AB has a tiger by the tail. But two true believers built something great and then walked away with giant bags of cash. Good for them.
  20. rmcnealy

    rmcnealy Jan 13, 2006 Illinois

    This is going on right now in my company as well... (we were the ones bought out). A year grace period is spot on. Good summarization.
  21. pweis909

    pweis909 Aug 13, 2005 Wisconsin

    To me, this sounds like the change is about marketing, not brewing. Not really surprising given that marketing is how the King of Beers has stayed on the throne. I'm trying to look at a plus side. Perhaps this means that Honkers and GI IPA, two beers that I happen to like, will be consumed by a broader audience and elevate our collective beer consciousness. The beers' qualities don't necessarily have to change.

    I'm not sure what happened to Becks. Hasn't it always been skunky? At least that's the way I remember it.
  22. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    It all jibes with Anheuser-Busch's intense and aggressive focus on profit at all costs. Here are some of the moves made by CEO Carlos Brito to shore up profits, according to Bloomberg Businesweek:
    •Shifted the brewing of Beck's from Germany to St. Louis, alienating fans who said the taste was weakened.
    •Laid off 1,400 people, or 6% of its American workers.
    •Sold the SeaWorld and Busch Gardens theme parks.
    •Made its labels smaller, the glass in its bottles thinner and cardboard packaging weaker.
    •Used broken rice instead of whole grains in its beer, something previous management would not do.
    •Cut the number of employee BlackBerry phones and told execs to start flying commercial.
    •Cut purchases of high-quality hops, like those from Germany's Hallertau region, in favor of cheaper hops.

    Above is from:

  23. Lare453

    Lare453 Feb 1, 2012 Florida
    Beer Trader

    Get your 2012 bcbs a no their variations because next year will suck
  24. sind310

    sind310 Nov 15, 2011 California

    No need to get political, but Obama celebrates his second win with 312. Marketing and media department did a great job of getting new consumers. But now this happens. Of course A-B jumped on it! Why didn't someone just hand his ass a Bud-Light instead?!? What a jack-ass move!
  25. Ford

    Ford Sep 8, 2012 Texas
    Beer Trader

    With everything they've done to all the other beers they have purchased... no way they leave Goose Island alone in the long run...
    mikeburd1128 likes this.
  26. emannths

    emannths Sep 21, 2007 Massachusetts

    Obviously I know nothing about the rationale behind the GI purchase, but I wouldn't be surprised to see A-B run it like the luxury arm of a car company rather than another faux-craft brand like Shock Top. A-B created the Shock Top brand from scratch--why buy another brand just to make it another Shock Top? I think it's much more likely that A-B uses GI as a brand to capture the dollars spent on high-priced, high-margin craft beer like BCBS. In that role, GI fills a hole in the A-B brand portfolio, rather than duplicating an existing product. Cost-cutting that also sacrifices quality won't be common. I suspect A-B looks more at the Duvel-Moortgat or Sam Adams models for GI rather than the Shock Top one.

    And yes, I'm willfully ignoring the pedigree of the new GI head... ;)
    Pahn and creepinjeeper like this.
  27. ComRock12

    ComRock12 Sep 28, 2010 Massachusetts

    Goose Island's standard beers suck anyway, I'll just hold on to my few remaining Vintage series and move on. They never really took much of my budget anyway... Curious as to what they mean by Craft Advisory Board though.
    keef likes this.
  28. bound4er

    bound4er Jul 4, 2007 Wisconsin

  29. Jplachy

    Jplachy Feb 12, 2012 Illinois
    Beer Trader

    I'm still confused as to why AB-InBev will absolutely positively 100% for sure ruin Goose Island. It doesn't make sense. Goose Island was the brand that got my foot in the door of "craft" beer. And this has happened to at least a dozen people I know. They ask me to recommend a beer. I say "312" they say "I loved it!" then they try a 3Floyds beer, love that, etc, etc, repeat, repeat until they are one of us.

    Even post AB-InBev I'll bring a 12 pack of 312(which to me still tastes the same as it did when I first had it)and blow minds. I got a text last week from a friend "Hey I'm at this place Revolution, its pretty good..." etc, etc, repeat, repeat until they are one of us.

    As more and more people shift away from the macro brews(I saw 2 bros at Osco carrying 24 packs of Miller Lite through the liquor dept the other day when one of them stopped and exclaimed "THEY HAVE DAISY CUTTER!")wont AB-InBev need Goose Island and their higher priced brews to keep afloat? And margins be damned you can't mess with the taste, because as soon as it tastes bad I'll stop recommending it. They have to keep ME happy, because I'm the one who buys their stuff en masse, and recommends it to people who have never veered from squeezing a lime into their clear glass bottles.

    Until Goose Island's beer doesn't taste like the delicious beers that got me here(this message board and well....paying $18 for a bomber of a barrel aged stout)I'll stand by Goose Island and AB's decisions. The bigger Goose gets, the more we can convert to the cause of craft beer with their decently priced now WIDELY available beers. And even if they don't convert, wouldn't you rather have someone order a Honker's Ale than a Bud Light? I mean at least it tastes good(for now*).

    *and maybe forever
    creepinjeeper likes this.
  30. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    “I'm still confused as to why AB-InBev will absolutely positively 100% for sure ruin Goose Island.” I am not 100% sure that AB-InBev will ‘ruin’ Goose Island and I genuinely hope that they don’t.

    “And margins be damned you can't mess with the taste, because as soon as it tastes bad I'll stop recommending it.” Well, reducing margins is unfortunately a genuine concern. There is recent history that AB-InBev did this with Beck’s (which is now brewed in St. Louis). They have also taken other steps to reduce costs in their beer making. I posted this previously:

    It all jibes with Anheuser-Busch's intense and aggressive focus on profit at all costs. Here are some of the moves made by CEO Carlos Brito to shore up profits, according to Bloomberg Businesweek:
    Shifted the brewing of Beck's from Germany to St. Louis, alienating fans who said the taste was weakened.
    •Laid off 1,400 people, or 6% of its American workers.
    •Sold the SeaWorld and Busch Gardens theme parks.
    •Made its labels smaller, the glass in its bottles thinner and cardboard packaging weaker.
    •Used broken rice instead of whole grains in its beer, something previous management would not do.
    •Cut the number of employee BlackBerry phones and told execs to start flying commercial.
    Cut purchases of high-quality hops, like those from Germany's Hallertau region, in favor of cheaper hops.

    Above is from:

    Let’s all hope that AB-InBev does not make the same ‘mistakes’ like they did with Beck’s recently but it would be imprudent to just think that Goose Island is different and the quality of Goose Island beers is of upmost importance to AB-InBev vs. maximizing profits.

  31. thegoon55

    thegoon55 Oct 27, 2012 Massachusetts
    Beer Trader

    First off let me say lets hope the don't ruin bcbs...speaking of maximizing profits do you think they will re-brew Rare or vanilla due too there popularity?
  32. aaronanderson

    aaronanderson Nov 2, 2012 Michigan

    Has anybody seen the movie Beer Wars(I think that's what its called). This is exactly what the documentary speaks of.
  33. epk

    epk Jun 10, 2008 New Jersey

  34. Bitter_Echo

    Bitter_Echo Apr 13, 2012 Michigan

    Demand quality, keep buying it, promote it, and magically, this will create and sustain a market for quality craft beers. Compromise, settle, or drink whatever, and be prepare to drink more junk (me, not at all). They might try to buy them all but they can't, and others will be sure to fill the vacuum of quality. Remember, in some very powerful ways, as consumers, we play an important part in the quality of the things we consume. Demand better and no worries.
  35. creepinjeeper

    creepinjeeper Nov 8, 2012 Missouri
    Subscriber Beer Trader

    Thanks for posting the article. It seems to me that they have messed with almost every beer they get their hands on, including flagship beers. So, while I am hoping that it will be different, what is there to keep them from messing with Goose Island? I don't think it's a conspiracy theory, I think it's their track record and business model. Sadly, it's getting harder and harder to keep track of AB/InBev beers. I had no idea Hoegaarden was their line.
  36. JediMatt

    JediMatt Jun 18, 2010 Iowa

    That's how I feel too. Not only do I not agree with their business tactics, we've watched them water down several other brands as well. Here's a list of brands that AB/Inbev either owns totally or in part:

    Goose Island
    Natural Light
    Rolling Rock
    St Pauli Girl
    Stella Artois
    Negra Modelo
    creepinjeeper likes this.
  37. epk

    epk Jun 10, 2008 New Jersey

    It's kind of funny that all these years we thought AB was the worst when it came to quantity over quality, but at least they were apparently staying true to using consistent/quality ingredients (insisting on hole grain rice, sourcing their beechwood from multiple companies, and importing German hops), while this new Brazilian-managed AB-InBev cuts on even those to save a buck.
  38. JimsArcade

    JimsArcade Jan 20, 2004 Pennsylvania

    I'm more concerned about the lesser-hyped stars in Goose Island's portfolio like Sofie and the "three sisters". I see a much greater chance of getting inferior versions of those beers, or losing some of them altogether, compared to BCBS which I believe is relatively safe.

    The majority of the beers in the AB-InBev portfolio are commodities. From a business perspective, it makes sense to reduce expenses on commodity products that are traditionally price elastic (i.e., small changes in price result in relatively large changes in demand). BCBS is a product that is almost definitely price inelastic. They would be better off maintaining the high quality of BCBS and simply charge more: it will sell out regardless of price.

    BCBS also drives the sales of GI's "flagship" beers at distributors. "Want to offer a case of BCBS? Well, you have to order X cases of our IPA first." Alienating BCBS drinkers will reduce demand for it and, in turn, reduce the incentive for distributors to stock more of GI's flagship beers.

    It's for these reasons that I believe the fear about BCBS' quality is pretty much unjustified. A beer with such a passionate consumer base is unprecedented in AB-InBev's portfolio. They should know better than to mess with that. However, the rest of GI's beers have a much greater chance of getting hit by AB-InBev's margin-cutting strategy they employ everywhere else.
  39. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    It is only fair to give Anheuser-Busch kudos for resisting the move to use cheaper broken rice in the past. As a homebrewer I am very uncertain what the flavor/beer difference would be between brewing with broken rice vs. whole grains but there must have indeed been a reason for using whole grains.

    While it may not be totally appropriate to use the description of “cheapening’ for the aspect of diminishing use of hops in making Anheuser-Busch beers over the past 20-40 years I think we should recognize that this indeed happened. The rationale by Anheuser-Busch for this phenomenon is:

    “Mr. Muhleman, who is officially Anheuser's group vice president for brewing and technology, says the company didn't set out to make the beers less bitter. He calls the change "creep," the result of endlessly modifying the beer to allow for changes in ingredients, weather and consumer taste. "Through continuous feedback, listening to consumers, this is a change over 20, 30, 40 years," says Mr. Muhleman, gesturing toward the row of Budweiser cans. "Over time, there is a drift."

    The five Budweiser cans in front of Mr. Busch, dating from 1982, 1988, 1993, 1998 and 2003, were pulled off the production line shortly after they were brewed. They were cooled to minus-321 degrees Fahrenheit over 16 hours and stored at that temperature in a secret laboratory in the company's headquarters.

    The sample cans demonstrate how "creep" works. The difference in taste between two beers brewed five years apart is indistinguishable. Yet, the difference between the 1982 beer and the 2003 beer is distinct. "The bones are the same. It is the same structure," says Mr. Muhleman. Overall, however, "the beers have gotten a little less bitter."

    The above quotes are from an article previously published in the Wall Street Journal in 2006:

  40. Providence

    Providence Feb 24, 2010 Rhode Island

    Even if it means the craft beers from small breweries that you love so much will become more difficult to get?
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